Trade Secrets are ideas, formulas, or processes which provide the owner of that information with an advantage in the marketplace and are reasonably expected to be kept secret. Virtually all states have adopted a portion of or modified version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1970 and amended in 1985. Virtually all states have adopted a portion of or modified version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, a model code drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1970 and amended in 1985. For states that have no codified protection, common law protection still exists.
The act defines trade secret as:
information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that:
- (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and
- (ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
Interestingly enough, trade secrets do not need to be registered in order for protection to exist. The heart of this intellectual property right lies in the confidentiality itself.
Creating the required level of secrecy can be done by preparing non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements which establish a duty of confidentiality. Also, some people may be automatically bound by a duty of confidentiality due to the nature of their relationship with a company, person or product, and the frequency with which they come in contact with the information.Some of the most famous trade secrets include:
- Coca-Cola’s signature formula
- Colonel Sanders’ original recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken
The formula for WD-40, a water displacing spray
- The recipe for Krispy Kreme doughnuts
Remedies for infringement of a trade secret include damages, profits, reasonable royalties, and an injunction. Federal protection from the theft of a trade secret exists only in the criminal courts, however, under 18 USC 1832.
To learn more about how to protect or defend a trade secret, contact The PLK Law Group Trade Secret attorneys today.